Good guest post at Uncommon Descent by Aurelio Smith,
For those who prefer to comment here, this is your thread!
For me, the argument by Ewert Dembski and Marks reminds me of poor old Zeno and his paradox. They’ve over-thought the problem and come to a conclusion that appears mathematically valid, but actually makes no sense. Trying to figure out just the manner in which it makes no sense isn’t that easy, though I don’t think we need to invent the equivalent of differential calculus to solve it in this case. I think it’s a simple case of picking the wrong model. Evolution is not a search for anything, and information is not the same as [im]probability, whether you take log2 of it or not. Which means that you don’t need to add Active Information to an Evolutionary Search in order to find a Target, because there’s no Target, no search, and the Active Information is simply the increased probability of solving a problem if you have some sort of feedback for each attempt, and partial solutions are moderately similar to better ones.
Intelligent Design proponents claim to be able to distinguish design from non-design. Here’s an easier task. Look at the inscription in the photograph. Is there any way to tell how old it is? I can tell you the stone turned up in an excavation in 1996 in the Pyrenees. Is there any way to tell if the marks are meaningful or gibberish?
A friend sent me a couple of links about the American mycologist, Paul Stamets. I’d not heard of this man or his ideas and, on the face of it, they seem either revolutionary or too good to be true. However, considering the recent suggestion that the herbicide, Roundup™, may be after all not so safe to use perhaps his ideas are worth exploring.
In what seems like a proof of Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence, the “is morality objective or subjective” debates are playing out yet again at UD.
Here, in 60 seconds or less, is why theistic objective morality doesn’t get off the ground:
[Results not guaranteed. May vary with individual reading speed.]
1. For objective morality to have an impact, we need to a) know that it exists, b) know what it requires, and c) know that we have reliable access to it. We don’t know any of those things.
2. Lacking access to objective morality, all we have left is subjective morality — what each person thinks is right or wrong. This is just as true for the objectivist as it is for the subjectivist.
3. Even if God existed and we knew exactly what he expected of us, there would be no reason to regard his will as morally binding. His morality would be just as subjective as ours.
I harken to Barry’s call for Materialists Everywhere to Stop Equivocating. All materialists do. Everything changes, we enter a golden age of just, well, superness all round. It carries like that on for the entirety of human history. Continue reading
While composing my post on Veblen goods, I came across the concept of a “Giffen good”, which was new to me. It’s a fascinating topic that I think is worth a post.
It’s been really fun arguing with Keiths recently about dimensionless units. I can’t get enough of the guy lately. I’ve certainly learned a lot in the process.
So, here is the link to a paper which Keiths claims says something about income inequality, and I say is another example of the proliferation of shoddy science.
The highlight of the paper is this claim:
“We found that of the 40 search terms used more frequently in states with greater income inequality, more than 70% were classified as referring to status goods (e.g., designer brands, expensive jewelry, and luxury clothing). In contrast, 0% of the 40 search terms used more frequently in states with less income inequality were classified as referring to status goods.”
Where does one begin to critique the ridiculousness of this claim? 70% of the majority of searches are for luxury goods in some states, 0% of the most searched items in other states?
If one claims the difference in search patterns from one state to another is that dramatic, shouldn’t ones bs detector already be ringing alarm bells?
And what is considered a luxury good? What is the cut-off for equal states and unequal states? Did they decide the luxury terms before or after they viewed the data? Who do they claim is doing all this searching for luxury, the haves or the have nots?
The red flags are everywhere. Isn’t it likely that they had a conclusion that they wished to reach, and that they fulfilled their own prophecy?
1. Imagine you are God.
2. You are omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent.
3. You’ve created Man
4. You really want Man to know all about you, your rules and stuff and this knowledge should endure.
Given your large toolset, how would you go about this?
Extra credit question:
Why are you doing anything?